I peeked out of my tent, lower half still in my sleeping bag. I had woken up on a deserted road in Fjordgård, Senja. When the tunnel was finished, a 2km stretch of hillside road had been abandoned to cyclists and pedestrians. Decades ago, judging by the moss and grass growing on what used to be asfalt. Someone had brought a couple rest area benches in the middle of the road. As good a place to camp as any.
I yawned. My breath remained visible in the air. Too cold. The sky was a clear blue, but the tall mountains surrounding the fjord would keep my campsite in the shadow for some time. I dove back into the sleeping bag. Maybe this could be a rest day.
After two hours of snuggling, the sun and warmth finally arrived. I set my still-wet laundry to dry, and aired and UV-disinfected some gear. I settled into my familiar morning routines. Put the pannier with the perishable food in a cool place. Brush my teeth. Pack up all sleeping equipment into one bag. Take down the tent. Put everything in their designated places. I had done all of this hundreds of times. This time I added a little extra basking in the sunshine before rolling down into the nearby village.
Apparently children in Senja are taught to say hello to everyone they see, because I received a number of friendly greetings from kids cycling or walking past. Adults aren’t any more reserved either - I had never gotten this many smiles, waves and thumbs ups from local drivers. An incredibly welcoming place.
Fjordgård was slightly off my route, but I had come to photograph Segla, a famous pointy mountain towering over the town. For the best view I had to hike up several hundred meters, though. I am in pretty poor shape for a young(ish..) man who isn’t overweight, so this climb took a lot out of me.
But the view from the top was amazing. Beautiful fjords and villages far below, with vertigo-inducing walls dropping hundreds of meters straight down into the sea. Snow-capped mountains disappearing into the distance, with the vastness of the empty ocean opening up to the north. And the barren Segla looming still higher.
I had to sit down to just marvel at everything. This is my life now. To have the freedom to travel to these places is a priviledge I should always remember to be grateful for.
In the evening when I was leaving the village I passed by the local burger place. Before my brain registered anything, I was already parking my bike. It’s not common for me to splurge on restaurants, especially in Norway. After all the climbing however, 20 euros for a hamburger seemed like a fantastic idea. I inhaled it so fast I barely noticed how delicious it was.
While pitching my tent back on the abandoned road, my legs were shaking from exhaustion. Not quite the rest day I’d had in mind. I passed out within seconds of hitting the pillow.